Online Privacy Resources Abound -- Choose Carefully

Lora Bentley

For the last few days, I've been doing some digging into the online privacy issues that came to light (or at least came into more focus) when Google announced it was bowing to public pressure and cutting the length of time for which it retains identifying information on its users in half.


First, there are a handful of organizations that appear to be taking advantage of the growing apprehension users have about the vulnerability of their information online. There are non-profit groups like the Tor project, businesses like Anonymizer, or even companies like TrilightZone that promise to hide your Internet activities from ISP logs, or even from authorities. Hal Roberts, from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, told me last week that using such services doesn't really solve the problem. It just transfers the risk from an Internet service provider like Google to the third-party service. In Roberts' words, "If you don't trust Google, why should you trust [the third party service]?"


So what should business users do? That's where groups like the Online Privacy Alliance and the Center for Democracy and Technology come in. Though schedule conflicts prevented OPA representatives from speaking with IT Business Edge, the organization's Web site provides links to several resources that may be helpful. Similarly, the CDT offers thorough online privacy guidelines.

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Sep 30, 2008 8:22 AM Kevin Founders Kevin Founders  says:
I don't know about TrilightZone but Anonymizer does no logging.. and from experience, I know they cannot even give information if subpoenaed. Reply
Oct 2, 2008 10:26 AM m.j m.j  says:
I'm actually a trilightzone client and i love their services. I think both organisations have the same aim, to protect the privacy of their clients. Hope this very short note is useful to anyone looking for a good service. Reply
Oct 2, 2008 10:38 AM Seymour Uphill Seymour Uphill  says:
Hello,I have to chime in: privacy companies do add one or more layers of additional protection. Your internet activities are cloaked, so that profiling your habit is not possible. If everybody would know how so called free open source projects as in firefox or thunderbird are really financed (yes... google pays them, so they install by default the google search box), then everybody would use a proxy. And i prefer the paid for ones, as they are fast and reliable. My policy even includes chaining different companies, so I can play a geo arbitrage. Companies with good experiences I used (and still use) are trilightzone.org, www.privacy.li, cotze.net and micropipe.netSeymour Reply
Oct 2, 2008 1:27 PM Henry Dupriox Henry Dupriox  says:
The best way to protect privacy is to make sure there are no traces to follow. Although this is basically impossible it is good if one can give "them" a good run for their money. I do not believe that a u.s based company like anonymizer which does also business with the u.s government can be a neutral party for the privacy seeking individual. If i read the article correctly then Hal Roberts says if you're not a multi-million business and have an expensive building then you cannot be reliable. I'm surprised that some one from Harvard would draw such conclusion and clearly biased. Why would a smaller outfit be less better than a giant who looks at people as if they were a bunch of barcodes ? A giant which loves to log people forever if not stopped. Anyone thought that it might be better not to have such a clear physical presence in a country like the u.s ? Like a sitting duck just waiting for a raid on their systems and interrogations of staff ?For some reason i get a bitter taste as i remember the story of e-gold. How can any u.s based company survive all the new privacy invading laws if it does not cooperate already ?Personally i believe that even anonymizer can be a good choice, it all depends on the situation of the client in need. For the rest i see some good points in favour of trilightzone, they make it hard to get to them, they spread their infrastructure over multiple jurisdictions, seem to have a decentralized team of people ...I'm running my own company which develops security software, in our daily operations these discussions and needs are always at the forefront. Especially if our projects include monitoring flows of data which are highly sensitive.Henry Reply
Feb 6, 2009 10:22 AM John Quincy Adams John Quincy Adams  says:

Despite what this author believes in, I still trust my privacy and anonymity through the IAPS Security Store because they've never steered me wrong and have a wide range of available services: http://www.intl-alliance.com/store

Oct 31, 2009 9:13 AM Nick Nick  says: in response to John Quincy Adams

I have to say IAPS is not a good example of a company in this industry. Their solution has massive issues staying online, their process of informing their customers is basically not to and when you do finally get an answer from their support guys it tends to be curt, condescending and bordering on rude at times.

I tried to cancel my contract with them and they basically told me to **** off and won't give me a refund.

Plenty of other guys out there providing the same service. Look around is my advice or pray you don't have an issue that needs their help.

Sep 3, 2010 1:56 PM Ajax Ajax  says:

I heard that anonymizer.com was in bed with the government. Also a lot of the tor nodes are run by government agencies to catch the unaware.

Since years I use international proxy providers like privacy.li , perfectprivacy.com and others, which have proven very reliable. All my dealings are done with untraceable cash or digital currencies, so that I really stay anonymous.


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